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The Theory of Moral Sentiments

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Theory of Moral Sentiments.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Adam Smith(Author)

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Adam Smith's theory on morals provided the philosophical bedrock for his future works on economics, including his most famous book The Wealth of Nations.

Published in 1759, this work sees Smith follow the lead of his tutor and mentor Francis Hutcheson. He divides his ethical examinations into four broad categories: ethics and virtue; private rights and natural liberties; rights of the family; and state and individual rights.

The book is comprised of seven principle parts:

In the first, Smith discusses the propriety of mankind, and its relation between the adversity and prosperity of the individuals who make up a society. The various emotions through which the sympathy of others is elicited, and how the passions of individuals interact, conflict or compliment their propriety is considered.

Part Two focuses upon the merits and demerits appearing in civil society, the means through which people are gratified and rewarded, and punished or reprimanded. Smith discusses justice, comparing the ideas of remorse and considering justice alongside virtue.

Part Three considers how people enjoy to be praised, but are repelled by blame. How the everyday population behaves in connection with established moral principles, as through religion and the concept of the deity, as well as the sense of duty affecting personal interaction with society.

Part Four discusses how the concept of utility affects artistic beauty, and whether the merit and skill in creating works of art is itself a component of utility, due to its cultural impact.

Part Five discusses the ideas of beauty and deformity, and how society's fashions and customs impact upon and affect instances of each.

Part Six examines the character of man; how he attains happiness, and suffers adversity and hardship. Smith is particularly interested in prudence; an emotional state of caution which he held as central to the gradual development of an individual and the wider society.

The final part retrospectively asks questions about the theory of moral sentiments. We revisit each part in turn, discussing how the principles of virtue and approbation affect the various emotions and tenets of the human being.

Although lesser known compared to Adam Smith's later works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments is an influential work of philosophy in its own right, with the greatest effect being upon its author.

"A worthy and distinctive addition to Adam Smith scholarship and an excellent presentation of the authentic Adam Smith to a wide audience for the 21st century. It is beauty presented, and the editorial work by Ryan Hanley is of the very highest standard. The introduction by Amartya Sen, as always, is excellent and should appeal for its clarity to a wide audience."-Gavin Kennedy, Emeritus Professor, Heriot-Watt University"One of the truly outstanding books in the intellectual history of the world...A global manifesto of profound significance to the interdependent world in which we live. It is indeed a book of amazing reach and contemporary relevance."-Amartya Sen, from the Introduction"One of the truly outstanding books in the intellectual history of the world...A global manifesto of profound significance to the interdependent world in which we live. It is indeed a book of amazing reach and contemporary relevance."-Amartya Sen, from the Introduction --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

3.4 (7908)
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Book details

  • PDF | 178 pages
  • Adam Smith(Author)
  • CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (21 Sept. 2016)
  • English
  • 9
  • Society, Politics & Philosophy

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Review Text

  • By Guest on 6 June 2017

    Thank you

  • By Mr. C. L. Newman on 17 August 2013

    Like few others both before or after him, Adam Smith stands out as a writer of both practical common sense and more philosophical and thought provoking argument and judgement.Some ideas and views are never good for any time; few stand the test of time. Adam Smith's both stand as good - and pass the test - possibly for all time.

  • By Haraldo Wenceslas on 31 January 2013

    I've no doubt that 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments' is a seminal text, but for the love of the almighty, get a different edition to this one. Herein lies numerous spelling and grammatical errors, as it seems to have been based upon a third-rate scanning of another edition of the text.You have been warned.

  • By PlayerPianoPlayer on 1 February 2014

    This books is a masterpiece, not only of philosophical ethics, but also of social psychology. It recasts ethics by examining the psychology of why people think some actions good and other actions bad. It's examination of these psychological factors is both incisive and pretty exhaustive.At times, it contains pre-echoes of the ideas of modern evolutionary psychologists, as in the following passage: "Thus self-preservation, and the propagation of the species, are the great ends which Nature seems to have proposed in the formation of all animals. Mankind are endowed with a desire of those ends, and an aversion to the contrary; with a love of life, and a dread of dissolution; with a desire of the continuance and perpetuity of the species, and with an aversion to the thoughts of its intire extinction. But though we are in this manner endowed with a very strong desire of those ends, it has not been intrusted to the slow and uncertain determinations of our reason, to find out the proper means of bringing them about. Nature has directed us to the greater part of these by original and immediate instincts." These instincts are brought to bear in explaining, among other things, why parents are more likely to be excessive than deficient in love for their children, and why we are horrified by the deficiency, but tolerant of the excess. That's classic Evo Psych, a hundred years before Darwin.Apart from a very wide ranging survey of ethical topics, there is also an essay on aesthetics, which again is very much in tune with modern psychology, a discussion of economic behaviour (not surprising, given that Adam Smith pretty much invented modern economics), a discussion of cultural differences in ethics, an examination of some topics in politics, and an interesting reassessment of then-existing theories of ethics in the light of Adam Smith's psychological theory.Not only does the book give an excellent overview of ethical topics and a very well thought out and interesting theory, it's also an enjoyable read, and full of interesting thoughts on psychology. I'm inclined to think that a social psychologists could make a whole career by going through this book chapter by chapter and basing research projects around the ideas contained therein. It could also be used as a moral guide. It deserves to be very widely read.

  • By D. W. Reap on 17 October 2012

    How regrettable that I have only just absorbed this wonderful work. It should be compulsory reading for all students and intellectuals no matter what age whether studying economics or not.


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